The United States fought back against China in gymnastics on Friday and won handsomely in the pool to restore some of the might of the traditional sporting superpower.
Nastia Liukin led a one-two US victory in women’s all-round individual gymnastics, relegating the Chinese to third place and denying them a four out of four sweep of gold medals in gym events.
“My dad is the reason why I became Olympic champion today,” said Liukin, 18, after they became the first daughter-father act to win gold medals in artistic gymnastics. Father and coach Valery won two golds for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
American Michael Phelps scorched to his sixth gold and his sixth world record in the Water Cube pool, closing in on Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven gold medals in an edition.
The 23-year-old now has 12 career Olympic golds, three more than anyone else. Like Spitz in 1972, all of his golds at these Games have come in world record times.
Another faking controversy enveloped the opening ceremony, again underlining the enormous lengths China is going to make the Games a showcase of its resurgent might.
Children supposedly from different ethnic groups who carried China’s red flag in a show of unity were actually mostly Han Chinese, who make up 92 percent of the 1.3 billion population, Games organisers admitted. Many ethnic groups, particularly Tibetans, chafe under Beijing’s control.
It is the third faking incident to hit the opening ceremony, after it emerged that computer-generated special effects had replaced “live” fireworks and an angelic little girl had lip-synched a song as the real singer was not pretty enough.
Tussle at the top
A dazzling floor exercise by Liukin somersaulted her to victory ahead of fellow American Shawn Johnson and China's Yang Yilin. Victory was sweet after China had profited from nervous mistakes by the U.S. women to win their first team gold.
The quest for dominance in the medals table is proving a fascinating contest between the United States and China, which came second in Athens in 2004. China led with 26 golds to the Americans’ 14.
The gap between the top two may narrow when track and field golds are decided, and the Americans have high hopes of a clean sweep of the medals in Friday’s shot put.
Phelps gave a quick shake of his fist after victory in the 200 metres individual medley but burst into a broad smile on the podium later.
He could equal Spitz in the 100 butterfly final just after 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Saturday and could break the record in the 4x100 medley relay final just before 11 a.m. on Sunday.
America's Ryan Lochte set another world best time as he won the men's 200 backstroke, ahead of compatriot Aaron Peirsol.
Team mate Rebecca Soni, who had minor heart surgery two years ago, also won the women's 200 breaststroke in a world record time, coming from behind to overtake the 100 metres winner Leisel Jones from Australia.
Many sports are struggling under the shadow of drugs cheats, and on Friday North Korean Kim Jong-su, who won silver and bronze in shooting, became the first medallist to test positive for drugs. Organisers said he had been stripped of his medals.